A study on modernising the National Guard has been completed and this will most likely mean a significant reduction in military service once the restructuring plan is approved, Minister of Defence Fotis Fotiou said yesterday.
Speaking to the media, Fotiou said the restructuring plan aims to help the army fulfil its important obligations despite the financial difficulties Cyprus is facing.
“We are now at the stage where the study has been completed and the details which include suggestions for a reduction in military term will be presented during the next Cabinet meeting,” said Fotiou.
“The House Defence Committee will be informed over the study’s details on Monday and we expect Cabinet to make a decision very soon.”
The minister added that any reductions to military service will take place in gradual phases to ensure Cyprus’ defence capabilities are not compromised in any way.
“As you understand I cannot divulge further details of the study before the Cabinet and House Defence Committee have been updated.”
Fotiou noted that the study is the product of several months of hard work put in by ministry and National Guard officials after considering factors such as the current financial crisis, operational demands and service to society.
“Efforts to modernise the army will not compromise our country’s defence capabilities. They will instead be strengthened through the modernisation process; I believe this message is clear.”
In an announcement after the minister’s comments, Democratic Party Diko warned that any changes to the operations of National Guard must be responsible and realistic.
“Diko will examine the restructuring plan and offer its opinion based on the current economic and societal conditions of Cyprus.”
According to reports, once the restructuring is implemented the term will likely be reduced to 18 months first and then to 14-15 months if conditions allow. In his pre-election pledge, Anastasiades said reducing the army term to 14 months could be achieved if the military turns semi-professional.
With the exception of Israel, Cyprus’ 24-month compulsory military service is the longest in the world.